The Millennial Dilemma: Episode Two

Don’t shame ’cause I game.

I think I may have found the permanent cover image for this series… Tell me, does this say “troubled millennial” to you?

Aaaaaaaand we’re back with another episode of The Millennial Dilemma. You doubted I’d actually be consistent with this, didn’t you?

I see you.

Now, I must admit, this episode was almost something entirely different. What that something is, I’m not quite sure, but the point is this episode wasn’t going to be about gaming. This topic was 100% going to be the focal point of a post, but I was unsure as to whether or not it was fit for an episode of The Millennial Dilemma. While there is a story here, a lot of this doesn’t apply solely to young people. If anything, this post is about my love for gaming continuing past a certain period of youth.

In the end, I figured it’s my blog, not yours, so I’m just gonna throw it in here anyway. Millennial or not, this post is an important one. So strap in, dear Reader.

It’s about to get deep.

Hold on to all the butts. (via GIPHY)

This post has been in the back of my mind for a while. There’s a lot to say, and it’s a topic that is very near and dear to me. Since it’s June, I figured now would be an appropriate time to write this piece.

You see, around this time every year, the annual E3 convention takes place. That’s “Electronic Entertainment Expo”, for those wondering. Every E3, the gaming industry’s biggest developers and publishers come together, to share gameplay, images, trailers, and everything they can about what’s to come.

For any gamer, it’s an exciting time.

Sony’s press conference is a personal highlight of every E3. (via mcvuk.com)

E3 is undeniably one of my favourite times of year. It’s a time when people all around the world come together, joined by a shared excitement for new developments in the gaming industry. As well as this comforting sense of unity, E3 also brings so much new content, which is unbelievably fun for me.

Be it watching new gameplay from previously teased projects, witnessing the unveiling of new sequels with my favourite heroes of old, or even learning of entirely new IPs, there is little I don’t get happy about at this convention. This happiness, however, does not come without opposition.

Before I get into explaining that last sentence, I just want to state one thing for the record: I love my parents. They are my strength, my sources of inspiration, and my closest friends. The reason I state this is, well…

They’re kind of the antagonists of this story.

I know, it’s a shocker. (via GIPHY)

Honestly, not trying to vilify my parents here (Maa, Baba, if you’re reading, I love your faces xo). I just have to tell it how it is.

You see, I’m a gamer. I have been since I was gifted my first console, the Gameboy Advance SP, at seven years of age. Much to my parents’ chagrin, however, I’ve spent — and still spend — a lot of my time playing video games. Typically, my parents aren’t too bothered by this.

This E3, however, that all changed.


The Game Shame

I’m getting better at making these.

Our story begins in the quaint town of Oakville (as ever). I sat in the basement with my little brother, watching the livestream of Ubisoft’s 2017 E3 press conference. As I live-tweeted the entire affair, my younger brother passed sarcastic judgement on every game the developer showed off. I felt a strange sense of pride, growing with each passing snark-fuelled statement.

The conference finished with the reveal of Beyond Good and Evil II. It was a sweet, nostalgic note to end on; though I had never played the original game, I respected the sentiment behind this. My brother continued to not give a damn. He and I were really only watching the Ubisoft conference to pass time. We had a much more exciting livestream coming up that night: the Sony E3 media briefing.

There was one problem, however. E3 was taking place during Ramadhan, and the Sony conference in particular was starting at 9pm that day: the time we were meant to break our daily fast. We asked our father if we could keep the livestream open on the side while we all ate together. He agreed, but there was one issue none of us had thought of.

No-one remembered to tell Maa.

Not quite dramatic enough to fit the last sentence… (via GIPHY)

Okay fine I’m exaggerating a little. Us not telling Maa wasn’t a huge issue, so long as the stream didn’t distract us from eating properly. The real dilemma arose when, after the dramatic opening instrumentals, the camera panned out to show the audience. The auditorium for Sony’s conference was packed. Like, more so than the earlier image of one of Sony’s previous conferences.

This did not go unnoticed by my father.

Baba voiced his immediate thoughts, proclaiming in as disappointed a tone as he could, “They’re all there for the game? The whole world has gone mad.”

I mean, ouch. That’s my world.

Although my father had basically just taken a jab at my fellow gamefolk, I decided to let this slide. So he doesn’t see the appeal, big deal right? Baba’s of a different generation, such is to be expected. Though this comment could be used to spark a debate, I should just relax. The comments are in passing. It’ll stop there.

It didn’t stop there.

This applies to my parents towards me just as much as the other way round… (via GIPHY)

Sony started with new gameplay from a title revealed at last year’s conference, Days Gone. A biker-based twist on the classic zombie survival-horror genre, the Days Gone gameplay was nothing less than gloriously gory. While my brother and I marveled at the high-definition undead, my mother was… Less impressed.

“This is disgusting,” she said.

Okay, that one was fair. I was essentially showcasing zombie killing and gang warfare to my British-Pakistani academic mother who had never witnessed such a spectacle in her life. In retrospect, that probably wasn’t the best mix. Again, I let the comment slide.

“The whole gaming thing is stupid.”

I was aggravated. (via GIPHY)
I was upset. (via GIPHY)
Okay but is this not literally what I’m doing right now? (via GIPHY)

Yes, I just used three GIFs. No, I do not care.

This is the main dilemma of this week’s story: my parents’ consistent demeaning of gaming as some kind of childish pastime. Not just my parents, but many of their generation. The baby boomers are now all 50+, and so many of the elders in my life who fall in that demographic share this opinion. They believe video games are for kids, and are confused and practically insulted by my persisting love for them.

Well, darling elders, I have words for you.

I respect your opinions, and your right to voice them, but one must admit when one is wrong. Gaming is not the hobby of the child. Gaming is one of the most unique and engaging forms of escapism. Gaming is an incredible medium for intricate storytelling. Gaming is a beloved part of many of our childhoods, and continues to be a cherished part of our lives today. Gaming is a way for people the world over to bond over shared interests and skills.

Gaming is fun, challenging, and a phenomenal time.

We the gamers. (via GIPHY)

See, I’m a creative. I love to write and tell stories. And, as someone who firmly believes in always recognising your roots and knowing where you came from, my creativity means I will never stop loving video games. A lot of my storytelling capability has come from my favourite pastime, from character archetypes to situational humour, to even my writing style and voice.

The immersion of games, the countless characters I’ve fallen in love with and cared about, the wonderful feeling of nostalgia, the whimsy in even the darkest of titles; these and more make me love gaming as much as I do. I would not be the Messy Artist I am today without Ratchet & Clank, Altair and Ezio, Jak & Daxter, and many others.

After explaining all this in an impassioned tone to my mother, I was met with stunned silence. Following a brief pause, she left me with an accepting “To each their own”.

It’s a step in the right direction. I’ll take it.

My boys.

And so ends this week’s millennial dilemma.

The story kind of fell apart halfway through to make way for an opinion piece, but I do hope you still enjoyed it, dear Reader. Next week should mark a return to Episode One-esque storytelling.

As for the moral of the story? Stand up for what you believe in. Even if it isn’t the debate of the century, it’s important to be able to defend what you love. If anyone bashes your passions, stand firm in your love of those passions. Believe in yourself, and you’ll have a ball of a time doing what you love.

And that’s that.

Till next we meet,
Sarim